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EDUCATIONAL SCENARIO IN INDIA

This is the first part of a series of articles on the above subject.

The education sector of India is in a state of disrepair. Over 6 decades of utter neglect from successive Union & State Governments and education regulators has allowed mediocrity or worse to flourish in a sector which can make or break India’s potential fortunes. India has the youngest population with 65% of Indian population below the age of 35 years and if we have to reap the benefits of this huge demographic dividend and emerge as a superpower within the next decade, this young population has to be provided education which focuses on skills, innovation, research and entrepreneurship. Else, India shall plunge into chaos and the likely consequences are not desirable for anyone who loves India.

To place things in perspective, India 2014 has over 1.2 million schools, about 12000 junior colleges, about 9500 undergraduate colleges and about 650 Universities affliated to UGC. Every year about 2.5 crore students start their school education by securing admission in Std.1 but hardly 1.3 crore students appear in Std.10. About 72 lakh students complete Std.12 but only about 14 lakh students enrol themselves in various undergraduate programs like BE, MBBS, BSc, BCom, BA, B.Ed., BCS, BBA, Law etc. Thus, the gross enrolment ratio of the country is a dismal 19%.

The stated figures reveal that only 50% of students who join school reach till Std.10. Again, only hardly 50% of those who study till Std.10 secure admission in junior colleges. The most disturbing trend is that out of all those who complete junior college education till Std.12 only 19% of them join senior undergraduate college to pursue a degree.

So, the first serious challenge is to get more and more students to complete their education. This is the first challenge in education sector in India which experts call as the problem of access. The Government can play a major role in solving this problem by simplifying rules for starting and running an educational institution and making the entire process of inspection, accreditation, affliation and evaluation fair, transparent and simple. Today, the rules are hazy and discourage private players without political contacts or financial muscle to start educational institutions. If rules are simplified, it shall encourage many corporate and private players without political blessings to start and run educational institutions.

The second challenge is the deficiency in quality of education in most schools and colleges in India. Quality in education is a profound and comprehensive concept and its context changes as per the specific stage (primary school / secondary school / college etc.), the field of education and of course the broad philosophy of education adopted. India still lacks a credible system of grading / ranking of educational institutions and hence students take admission to schools and colleges based on word-of-mouth or blatant marketing initiatives by educational institutions. There is no credible system of grading and ranking of educational institutions in India yet. Teaching systems adopted in all schools and colleges are teacher-centric and not student-centric. No feedback is taken about teachers with professional ramifications and hence teachers take their jobs as granted. Due to poor quality of education in schools and colleges, a parallel system of private education calle d Coaching Classes & Tutorials has emerged which has become a whopping 1.5 lakh crore ($ 24 Billion) industry as per ASSOCHAM estimates. The biggest proof of the pathetic quality of Indian schools and colleges is the exponential growth of coaching classes and tutorials throughout India.

To put things in perspective again, there are hardly 2-3 Indian colleges (usually the IITs) which figure in the Top 500 Global College Ranking published by reputed independent agencies. As per a KPMG report, the number of researchers in India per million is estimated to be about 119 as against 663 in China and 4484 in US and above 3000 in each of US, France & Germany. Though over a lakh of Indian students each year obtain a degree in Computer Science or IT or a certificate in programming / software from private institutes, hardly 40 students each year get Ph.Ds in Computers Science & Engineering. Only 15-20% of colleges offering professional courses like Engineering, Medicine, Law, Architecture etc. are known unofficially amongst students as A-grade colleges wherein placements for job + further studies are satisfactory. Rest of the colleges provide sub-standard education and have dismal records of job and further studies placements.

If India has to churn out top-notch professionals from its colleges, it is imperative that the central issue of quality has to be adequately addressed by the Union + State Governments as well as education providers across India. One of the most powerful tools towards achieving universal quality education across India is to harness the power of the internet and tablet / smartphone technology to its fullest by broadcasting recorded lectures of eminent teachers in any particular subject free of charge. These lectures should be accessible free for anyone across the nation – all that is needed is an internet connection and a device. So, if the Government provides high-speed broadband connectivity to every nook and corner of the country and subsidises the costs of tablets and smartphones, even poor and rural students can benefit from lectures of the best teachers across the country in any field from KG to PG.

The third issue in education is lack of equity. The cost of education in schools and colleges is quite high and hence only a select group of Indian citizens can afford education to all levels. The biggest reason why so many students drop out of schools, colleges and university education is identified as lack of financial strength amongst parents to pay the fees of educational institutions. Problems of equity are further complicated by unscrupulous politicians of the country from all hues and colors by attributing inequity to social backwardness identifiable by caste and not to economic compulsions identifiable by income groups. Thus, the instrument of Reservations has been used and abused in the field of education by narrow-minded politicians to appease their constituencies and have muddied the waters. However, beaming video lectures across the internet as suggested above can play a significant role in resolving the problems of equity. The second mechanism which can be suggested is incentivi se the educational loans market via banks, NBFCs and other Govt. agencies. The third mechanism is to fix the higher limit of fees in schools and colleges for various courses and making capitation fees as a punishable offence by law.

It is hoped that the new Union Government under PM Narendra Modi is seized of these triple concerns in the field of education viz. Access, quality & equity and shall take the necessary steps to make education a field where India shall reclaim its lost glory of being the epicentre of quality education. It is time that we aim for universal quality education and not just chant buzzwords like IITs, IIMs only when we talk of education in the Indian context.

Durgesh C. Mangeshkar

JEE V/S MHT-CET DEBATE IS ABOUT EXCELLENCE V/S MEDIOCRITY

JEE v/s MHT-CET debate is about Excellence v/s Mediocrity

Special Article on Engineering Entrance Exams Scenario !

In the past 11 years since 2004, the criterion for admissions into the Engineering colleges of Maharashtra has been a field of constant change and experimentation by the decision makers in Maharashtra Government. Every State Education Minister and Government has been changing the rules of the game at whim often with vague or short notice thereby creating an air of nervous uncertainty leaving lacs of students, parents and also teachers in a state of perpetual confusion and chaos. This article delves deeply into the various elements of educational philosophy, academic content & objectives, economics and broad political ideologies which are at play due to which this matter remains unsettled so far. However, all these issues can be settled if the political leadership has will and strength to implement a comprehensive vision for delivering quality education along with access and equity.

Before getting into the nuances of the elements at play, let us first examine the changes in rules of admission to Engineering colleges in Maharashtra in the past 11 years since 2004. Please note that for every Unaided Engineering college of Maharashtra, admission is granted via 3 different quotas viz. 65% State quota, 15% All India JEE MAINS (or AIEEE) quota & 20% Management quota. There have been no changes in the latter 2 quotas since 2002. However, significant changes in admissions criteria via 65% quota have been witnessed as mentioned below :

65% STATE QUOTA ADMISSIONS CRITERION

  • 1977-2003 : Admission on basis of Std.12 PCM marks only
  • 2004 : Admission on basis of 50% weightage each to Std. 12 PCM marks & MHT-CET marks
  • 2005 : Admission on basis of MHT-CET marks only. No weightage to Std.12 marks
  • 2006 : Admission on basis of MHT-CET marks only. No weightage to Std.12 marks
  • 2007 : Admission on basis of MHT-CET marks only. No weightage to Std.12 marks
  • 2008 : Admission on basis of MHT-CET marks only. No weightage to Std.12 marks
  • 2009 : Admission on basis of MHT-CET marks only. No weightage to Std.12 marks
  • 2010 : Admission on basis of MHT-CET marks only. No weightage to Std.12 marks
  • 2011 : Admission on basis of MHT-CET marks only. No weightage to Std.12 marks
  • 2012 : Admission on basis of MHT-CET marks only. No weightage to Std.12 marks
  • 2013 : Admission on basis of MHT-CET marks only. No weightage to Std.12 marks
  • 2014 : Admission on basis of 50% weightage each to JEE MAINS & Std.12 PCM percentiles
  • 2015 : Admission on basis of 50% weightage each to JEE MAINS & Std.12 PCM percentiles
  • 2016 onwards : ?????

NB: Most aided or autonomous Engineering colleges like GCOEP take their admission for all
their seats by the rules mentioned. They don’t have 15% All India quota or 20%

Management quota. Also, note that less than 15 out of 365+ Engg. colleges are aided.

There were hardly 12 Engineering colleges in Maharashtra in 1984 the same year when the Maharashtra Assembly passed the Private Engineering Colleges bill which allowed formation of Private Engineering colleges. As on 2015, the number of Engineering colleges in Maharashtra is 365+ and total number of seats in all these colleges stands at around 1.6 lacs. Since the past few years, almost 50-60000 seats remain vacant every year due to which many private Engineering colleges find it difficult to sustain themselves. Thus, hardly 1 lac students secure admission into some branch and into some Engineering college in Maharashtra every year.

It is shocking to note that till 2011, the number of first year Engineering (FE) students out of these 1 lac students who would pass all the 10 subjects of FE stood at under 20%. From 2012-13 academic year, all the Universities of Maharashtra resolved to make the first year Engineering exams drastically easy by introducing Online Objective exams thereby increasing the passing percentage to over 75%. It is unfortunate that technical educationists of Maharashtra have indulged in gross sub-standardisation of evaluation process to increase the passing percentage of students. Nobody seems to be bothered that Online Objective exams at Engineering level do not serve the purpose of building quality Engineers. None in the Education Ministry or the bureaucracy or the Engineering Education community is concerned about the fact that the employability of such students is reduced drastically. Who cares if students don’t gain confidence or jobs or skills ? As long as more and more students join and pass the Engineering colleges and fill the cash coffers of Engineering colleges, it is business as usual.

In the past 3 years, the job placements of Engineering graduates has hit an all-time low. Out of about 1 lac students who come out of Engineering colleges every year, less than one-third of them get job placements on campus. The rest remain unemployed. The HR executives of corporates of all hues have unanimously denounced the poor quality of skills, knowledge and confidence that candidates exhibit due to which they can’t hire despite having vacancies. There are only a handful of A-grade Engineering colleges in Maharashtra like GCOEP, VJTI, ICT, PICT etc. where this trend is not witnessed. It is interesting to discover that ground level feedback from students about faculty in these so-called A-grade colleges is not satisfactory either. But students somehow manage to study themselves and gain fundamentals. This is simply due to the fact that these A-grade colleges attract brighter students most of whom have been exposed to IIT-JEE studies in Std.11 & 12 in their JEE coaching classes due to which their basic concepts in PCM and thinking abilities have been sharpened. This phenomenon does not take place in students of B-grade & C-grade Engineering colleges as their basics are weak and they have not developed sound logical thinking skills in Std.11 & 12 as they were exposed to only Std. 12 level college studies or sub-standard MHT-CET studies.

A natural question arises then.
What is the key differentiator between an employable Engineering graduate and a non-employable Engineering graduate ? My analysis clearly states that the key differentiator is the strength of fundamentals of Science and Maths along with problem solving abilities of the student developed till Std.12. The aspect of quality of faculty in Engineering colleges is secondary and not the primary determinant of the quality of the Engineering graduate. The Government of the day, the bureaucrats in the Technical Education Departments and educationists in various colleges and Universities either fail to grasp or choose to ignore this key aspect which determines the quality of the Engineering graduate which in turn decides his employability as well as research, innovation & entrepreneurial scope.

The secret of Brand IIT is not the campus, the faculty, the labs and other resources which IITs provide. Those are secondary factors. The primary factor for the prestige and global appeal of Brand IIT is undoubtedly the Entrance Exam called IIT-JEE now renamed as JEE ADVANCED since 2013. The lofty level of difficulty IIT-JEE (arguably the toughest Entrance exam in the world) ensured that only the most brilliant and accomplished students got admission into the prestigious IITs since 1960. The quality of the incoming raw material was so rich that regardless of the quality of education imparted per se within the IIT campuses, the output was marvelous 90% of the times. Needless to mention, India’s finest entrepreneurs, researchers, innovators, corporate professionals, bureaucrats, social activists, media persons etc. are alumni of the IITs.

The same thesis holds true for other elite Engineering colleges in India like the BITS-PILANI, NITs, IIITs, DCE, VIT-Vellore etc. The quality (read difficulty level) of the Entrance Exam decides the quality of admitted students in an Engineering college. Dilution of the level of difficulty or syllabi or pattern of the Entrance Exam is sacrilegious from the point of view of quality education and brand equity of the college. Unfortunately, these time-tested principles have held no traction in the minds of the decision-makers of technical Education of Maharashtra till date who profess about quality education but address the cause of quantity education instead.

The normal narrative which the Education Ministers of Maharashtra read out is that by making the Entrance Exam easier, we are relieving the stress of students. The other narrative often doled out is that if Entrance Exams become tougher, then students depend more on commercial coaching classes who mint inordinate amounts of money. Hence, by making the Entrance Exam easier, we intend to reduce the dependence of students on coaching classes. Nothing is more ridiculous than both these arguments.

To rebut the latter argument, every student joins a coaching class even for Std.12 college studies since nothing worthwhile is being taught in junior colleges today. As far as Entrance Exams is concerned, every student joins some coaching class or the other irrespective of whether the Entrance Exam is easier or tougher. On the contrary, if the Entrance exam is easier, more coaching classes proliferate as there are more service providers. And competitive edge is the selling point for bagging admissions in both cases. So such decisions have little impact on the sway of coaching classes which have become the de facto standard in Indian education system.

And fees and sustenance of coaching classes is subject to market dynamics and it is said that the market is a great leveler. Then, why should the Government base its decisions on Education on what happens in the market space? The market is clever enough to take care of itself.

To rebut the former argument, it suffices to appreciate that Engineering studies is not a piece of cake which a casual student who spends more time watching cricket on TV or sharing Whatsapp jokes than studying can ever fathom. Engineering studies requires a student of above average intelligence quotient (IQ) and someone who can study for long hours. The subjects of Maths, Physics and Chemistry (PCM) which constitutes the base of all Engineering studies are profound yet fascinating subjects. Only an intelligent and hardworking student can grasp the deep fundamentals of PCM and it is clearly not the domain of the average student. Therefore, to state that the Entrance Exam must be made easier in order to ease the stress of Engineering aspirants is equivalent to saying that we will train our athletes to run only 4 km as running the complete stretch of 35 km would be very stressful for him. But we shall still train him to be a marathon runner. This is a confused and self-contradictory paradigm. An Engineering aspirant must be clear that becoming a quality Engineer needs lot of hard work and a minimum level of intellect. If both these aspects are present, the student can certainly go ahead. Else, he must choose some other career path. If either of these 2 aspects is not there and the student still foolishly pursues Engineering studies, then he will be tricked by the system and emerge as a degree holder low in confidence, devoid of skills and certainly unemployable. This type of graduate has been the output of all B-grade and C-grade Engineering colleges of Maharashtra for many many years. Almost all these colleges are owned by politicians of all political hues and hence the phenomenon is usually ignored by the incumbent Government.

The need for quality CAREER COUNSELLORS cannot be overemphasized. It is the burning need of the hour. Any Tom, Dick and Harry should not be encouraged to take up Engineering. It is a challenging field and only the capable ones must be encouraged. Today’s teenagers are gripped by electronic fever and are found spending long hours fiddling with their electronic gadgets. They invest little time for studies as they have no self-control and are usually pampered by cash-rich parents. The field of Engineering must be recommended to only such students who are intelligent, hard-working and have a strong mind which can temper the electronic fever.

Now, let us turn to the aspect of which Entrance Exam is ideal for choosing right Engineering students. The Entrance Exam must contain questions in PCM subjects which are thought- provoking and test fundamental concepts of the subjects. The JEE is certainly one such exam and is time-tested to select the deserving candidates for over 50 years. On the other hand, the MHT-CET started in 2004 is a sub-standard Entrance exam which contains easy formula-substitution questions and does not test the thinking or problems solving ability of the student at all. The JEE has 110 chapters, conceptual questions and negative marking. The MHT-CET on the other hand has typically 60 chapters, simple formula-substitution type questions and no negative marking. Thus, the choice between JEE and MHT-CET is abundantly clear for anyone who is an advocate of quality education. The JEE is the right choice ofcourse !

Now, let us examine how students have been preparing for Entrance Exams in Maharashtra in the past 10 years. About 2.5 lacs students appear for the Engineering Entrance Exam every year in Maharashtra. There are 3 major study patterns which have dominated different sections of the Engineering aspirants community.

The first study pattern constitutes nearly 75% of the Engineering aspirants community and involves joining a tuition or coaching class for college curriculum for 2-years in Std.11 & 12. Such students study from the college text books and additional notes given by coaching classes and prepare for the college Unit Tests, Terminals, Prelims and finally the Std.12 Boards exam. Such students prepare for the Entrance Exam like JEE MAINS or MHT-CET as the case maybe after Std.12 Boards exam by joining a Crash Course in a coaching class. This pattern of studies is dominant in all rural and semi-urban centers of Maharashtra and almost 50% of students in urban cities like Mumbai, Pune, Nagpur, Aurangabad etc. also follow this study pattern. This study pattern enables students to do well in college exams and Std.12 exams but they fare miserably in Entrance Exams. Such students learn the subjects of PCM by rote memory and they develop poor thinking or problem solving skills. They make poor candidates for Engineering.

The second type of study pattern involves studying for Std.11 college exams in Std.11 and then studying for the Entrance Exam and Std.12 Boards simultaneously in Std.12 which yields decent success to students in Std.12 Boards exams as well as the Entrance Exams. However, the pre-dominant method of learning remains basic understanding and simple applications-based questions. Such students do not score too well in JEE (< 60 marks out of 360) but do well in the easier MHT-CET. This type of study pattern is found in coaching classes in almost all semi-urban centers and to the extent of 35% in urban centers of Maharashtra. This type of study pattern is effective in providing a mediocre background for future Engineering studies though not an excellent or strong one.

The third type of study pattern involves studying for JEE only in Std.11 & most of Std.12. Only the last 3 months are dedicated by the student to study for Std.12 Boards which is sufficient as all Std.12 chapters are also there in JEE syllabi. The focus of this study pattern is on deep conceptual understanding and developing sharp problems solving abilities. This is the type of study pattern practised in good quality IIT-JEE coaching institutes which are present in only few urban centers of Maharashtra. About 15% of the students in urban centers follow this study pattern. Students following this study pattern perform excellently in JEE and all Entrance exams. They do well in Std.12 Boards as well though they do not figure amongst the toppers. The most important aspect is that students following this third study pattern perform excellently in Engineering thereafter. The seed of innovation, research and entrepreneurship is planted into the minds of students following this type of study pattern.

It is obvious that from a teaching point of view, the first study pattern is easiest to administer followed by the second and the third study pattern is toughest to administer. The ratio of number of coaching institutes advocating these different types of study patterns is also in the similar ratio as the number of students practicing the same. It must be the efforts of all educationists in the Government and the private sector to create a system wherein more and more students study by the 3rd study pattern as that is the most efficient pattern for becoming quality Technocrats.

Now, let us investigate which vested interests would want MHT-CET instead of JEE ?

Throughout the course of history, the devil has had usually more advocates than the divine cause. The same holds true in this case as well.

  • Since the MHT-CET is easy to teach and most junior college teachers and coaching classes teachers are unable to teach for JEE, the Std.12 coaching classes and junior colleges hanker for MHT-CET instead of JEE. Such teachers have been losing respect in the eyes of their students in the past 2 years since the JEE has been introduced as they are unable to answer their questions. So such incompetent teachers of Science & Maths want JEE to go and be replaced by a more comfortable MHT-CET.
  • The misguided parents and students who do not understand that employability of the student after graduation in the job market is directly proportional to the level of difficulty of the Entrance Exam plead for MHT-CET for short-term comfort or for love of convenience. The usual bogey of such parents and students is that JEE would be more stressful. They fail to understand that Engineering studies would be terribly stressful later if they don’t get their fundamentals strong in Std.11 & 12 which happens only by studying for an exam like JEE.
  • The B-grade & C-grade Private Engineering colleges which are over 250 in number in Maharashtra are plagued by the problem of unfilled seats every year and face the prospect of closing down also want MHT-CET instead of JEE. Their logic is this. If the Entrance Exam is easy like MHT-CET, more students shall score better and would be tricked into thinking that Engineering studies are within their ambit. So more of their college seats shall be filled and they would not make a loss. Instead, if the Entrance exam is JEE, relatively less students do well and the rest get alerted that if Entrance exam is so tough then Engineering studies would also not be easy. Hence, many students become wiser and choose a different career path and do not get into the Engineering trap. This should be actually desirable but the B-grade & C-grade Engineering colleges lobby do not want this to happen for their own vested interests.

It is interesting to know that after the introduction of JEE as an Entrance Exam since 2013, the quality of students enrolling in the A-grade Engineering colleges of Maharashtra has registered a steady improvement as per testimonials of Professors and Directors of these colleges. The number of students from Maharashtra getting selected in the IITs has increased tremendously in the past 2 years since 2013. In 2002, Maharashtra was ranked 12th in India in terms of number of students selected in the IITs, was 10th ranked in 2007 and reached 4th Rank after Rajasthan, A.P. and Delhi in 2014. So, if JEE continues in Maharashtra, it would be a matter of few more years that Maharashtra shall reach the numero uno position in IIT Ranks. Thus, JEE stands for excellence in education and MHT-CET for mediocrity at best if not poverty of education !

After reading this article, I think it should be very clear to the reader that the choice between MHT-CET and JEE is equivalent to the choice between Mediocrity and Excellence. It can therefore be broadly concluded that a Government which chooses MHT-CET instead of JEE is clearly NOT CONCERNED about quality of Engineering Education. Such a Government is concerned merely in lowering the bar thereby incentivising the ill-counselled youth of the State to take up Engineering on a mass scale. The B-grade & C-grade Engineering colleges are likely to be hand in-glove with the Government in doing the same as they are the beneficiaries of this phenomenon unscrupulously so. A Government which serves the vested interest of such constituencies should be held guilty of indulging in a form of crony capitalism and no less.

The Government should start a separate 4-years degree course called Bachelor of Engineering Skills (B.E.S.) in these B-grade and C-grade Engineering colleges wherein students learn minimal theory and are taught high-end practical industry-relevant skills like operating a CNC machine to using various software packages and computing tools. The youth who are not capable of understanding the deep theoretical stuff of the Sciences but still have the passion to pursue Engineering due to social conditioning or do some technical stuff can be groomed through this special B.E.S. courses. Such students can be easily get jobs as they are industry-ready. This is in line with PM Modi’s vision of Skill India as well. In other words, these struggling B-grade colleges can become glorified ITIs. The prestigious B.Tech. degree and B.E. degrees must be granted only to quality students by A-grade Engineering colleges. Else, the degrees have also lost their prestige.

Thus, the choice between MHT-CET and JEE is the choice between :

  • Mediocrity or Excellence
  • Quantity education or Quality education
  • Short-term interests or Long-term interests
  • Filling seats of dubious colleges or Building strong Engineers
  • Regressive vision or Progressive vision
  • Promoting the vicious easy path or Promoting the virtuous difficult path.

The choice that this Government makes shall decide the fortunes of an entire generation of bright students and hence also of the State and the nation. Make no mistake – this decision has the power and weight to transform Maharashtra into upward mobility or otherwise. I pray that wisdom and good sense prevails on the decision makers of the State.

I hope this article educates, enlightens and alerts the right thinking individuals of the State and the nation about the ongoings of a critical sector which can help realise or stem the tremendous potential that Maharashtra and India has.

Durgesh C. Mangeshkar

ONE NATION – ONE SYLLABUS – ONE TEXT BOOK !

The recent NEET controversy has triggered an extremely important nation-wide discussion on syllabus differences between several Boards and the urgent need to uniform the syllabus of all different Boards of the nation. There are 27 different Boards in India today for higher secondary courses and each Board has a different syllabus, text book and exam system. 



The subject of Education is in the Concurrent List and hence both the Union Government and State Government are stakeholders in framing various policies pertaining to Education sector. Due to the advent of Entrance Exams for professional courses made compulsory by a Supreme Court ruling of October 2004, various Common Entrance Tests (CETs) at State and National level started for all professional courses in India.  



In the past 5 years however, there have been attempts made by the Union Government to replace multiple CETs for one professional course by a Single National Entrance Exam. The recent case of NEET for Medical courses offering MBBS & BDS is a striking example. Similar attempts have been made for Management and Law courses as well. This has brought forth the central issue of syllabus for the National Entrance exams vis-a-vis State Boards syllabus. The syllabus of the national entrance exam in various subjects does not match or conform to the syllabus covered in the text books of State Boards and hence causes inconvenience and disadvantage to several students who appear for the exam. Most National Entrance exams conform to NCERT core curriculum norms which is not strictly followed by all State Boards. Hence, the crisis. 



In order to resolve this crisis once and for all, it is proposed that for scientific or technical subjects like Maths, Science, Geography, Computers, Accounting, Economics, Environmental studies etc., there must be one syllabus for all the Boards of the nation from Std.1 to 12 as and when these topics are taught. All the Boards must follow the same text book for that subject at that particular Std. For example, the Mathematics text book of Std.7 must be same for all the Boards of the nation. There is no regional pride (PRADESHIK ASMITA in Marathi) which must be attached to teaching of scientific or technical subjects. This proposal is in line with the principle of ONE NATION – ONE SYLLABUS – ONE TEXT BOOK which is adopted by several advanced nations like Finland, Sweden, Norway etc. and also proposed by several eminent educationists and HRD Ministers in the past decade.



However, for subjects which have a social, cultural or political influence like Languages, History, Civics etc., the syllabus and text books must be different for different Boards as they shall reflect the regional and cultural diversity of the nation. Regional pride and cultural sentiments has a definitive place here and must be respected and honored.



For Maharashtra State which is currently grappled with the crisis of syllabus mismatch in Physics, Chemistry & Biology with respect to NEET exam, the solution lies in adopting the “Goa Model” immediately. The Goa State Board for the past 10 years has adopted NCERT books which are published by Goa State Board under their name with official permission from NCERT. A royalty may be paid to NCERT for doing so. The Maharashtra Higher Secondary Board (HSC) must do the same immediately for all scientific and technical subjects. This will uniform the syllabus of Maharashtra State Board with CBSE and National level Entrance exams and prevent any similar crisis that may occur in future for students of our State. It will also enable students of Maharashtra State Board to compete on an even keel with students of any other Board in India and thus boost their prospects.



The NEET crisis exposed the mismatch of syllabus and has ushered in a welcome change long overdue in our nation of ONE NATION – ONE SYLLABUS – ONE TEXT BOOK. Hence, the NEET crisis may turn out to be a blessing in disguise !!!

Durgesh C. Mangeshkar

HOW TO STUDY PHYSICS FOR ENTRANCE EXAMS ?

The Entrance Exams to several professional courses like Engineering, Medicine, Architecture, Pharmacy, Pure Sciences etc. has Physics as one of the subjects. Physics is the foundation for learning almost all of Engineering and hence is an extremely important subject of Science. However, most aspirants of these Entrance exams struggle in studying Physics and find it tough. The least average marks in MHT-CET exam every year is in the subject of Physics. There are many reasons why Physics appears difficult to students and there are methods by which Physics can be made easy to learn. This article attempts to give an efficient approach to study Physics with ease.  



The Entrance Exams to several professional courses like Engineering, Medicine, Architecture, Pharmacy, Pure Sciences etc. has Physics as one of the subjects. Physics is the foundation for learning almost all of Engineering and hence is an extremely important subject of Science. However, most aspirants of these Entrance exams struggle in studying Physics and find it tough. The least average marks in MHT-CET exam every year is in the subject of Physics. There are many reasons why Physics appears difficult to students and there are methods by which Physics can be made easy to learn. This article attempts to give an efficient approach to study Physics with ease.  



  • The first thing that must be appreciated about Physics is that it is a conceptual subject and solving problems in Physics means learning to apply the right concepts in an appropriate manner. Students struggle in Physics as they do not grasp the concepts in a systematic and rigorous manner.
  • The other significant aspect of Physics problem solving is that it involves intelligent use of mathematical tools like Vectors, Graphs, Trigonometry, Theory of Equations, Co-ordinate Geometry and most importantly Calculus techniques of Differentiation, Maxima-Minima and Integration.
  • The right sequence in which Physics must be studied is the following :
    • Units, Dimensions, Vectors & Working Knowledge of Calculus
    • Particle Mechanics
    • Rigid Body Mechanics
    • SHM, Gravitation and Elasticity
    • Fluid Mechanics
    • Thermal Physics
    • Electromagnetism & Circuits
    • Wave Mechanics
    • Optics
    • Modern Physics
  • The text books prepared by the HSC Boards do not conform to the above sequence in Std.11 & 12. This is one of the major reasons for students not following this master sequence to understand the subject of Physics which lands them into troubles with the subject.

  • Solving any Problem in Physics involves a 4-step algorithm :
    • Identify key concepts & principles needed to solve the problem.
    • Model the problem in the form of mathematical equations. Get as many equations as unknowns.
    • Solve the equations to get the unknowns.
    • Interpret the answers in the language of Physics.
  • Students usually struggle in the first 2 steps in Physics. The remaining 2 steps are usually easy.

  • It is important to understand that any topic in Physics involves very few key principles. For example, in entire Particle Mechanics, there are only 4 key principles which the student must master to solve any problems viz. Kinematics, Force Dynamics, Work-Energy Theorem and Impulse-Momentum Theorem. Any problem in Particle Mechanics will involve one or more of the above 4 principles only. There is no 5th principle needed.
  • Another challenging part in solving Physics problems to students is how to use Calculus in solving problems in Physics. An important thing to realise is that those problems which involve a non-linear variation of one parameter with respect to the other would need Calculus techniques to handle them. If a set of parameters are cyclically linked in a phenomenon, then the use of Differential equations becomes necessary to analyse the same.
  • To master the art of solving Physics problems, a student must learn to visualise the situation in the problem and think which of the key concepts involved must be used. This type of thinking helps the student to initiate the process of problem solving.
  • The student must learn to distinguish between the Physics part of the problem and the Mathematical part of the problem. Often, the student gets the Physics part correctly but gets stuck in the mathematical part. The Physics part has to be handled by using key Physics concepts and the Maths part by using key Mathematical tools. Which part in a particular problem is more challenging has to be clearly distinguished and tackled.
  • Solving large variety of problems in Physics and solving the same problem by various methods is an effective way to gain mastery in Physics.
  • For understanding theory, students must use classic text books in Physics like books written by HC Verma or by Resnick-Halliday or by Sears-Zemansky.

If the above points are kept in mind, the student will gain mastery in this fascinating subject of Physics which is the core of all Sciences.

Durgesh C. Mangeshkar

MEDICAL ENTRANCE EXAMS SCENARIO

One of the most critical and often neglected areas which hugely influence the Medical sector in any nation is the criterion for selection of candidates to pursue Medical education. In India, this criterion is in the form of Medical Entrance exams after Std.12 for admission to undergraduate courses towards MBBS / BHMS / BAMS / BDS degrees in about 381 Medical colleges which is the highest number of Medical colleges in the world. There are about 64000 Medical seats of which about 25000 seats are in Government Medical colleges. About 8 Lakh Medical aspirants vie for these 64000 seats every year and thus the average selection ratio is 1:13.



There are more than 50 undergraduate Medical Entrance exams conducted by various State Governments, groups of private colleges and various agencies to these 381 Medical colleges due to which students and parents get confused and harassed to write so many exams. It has been observed that due to clash of dates and geographical distances and costs involved, the maximum number of Medical Entrance exams that any medical aspirant gives is 9. Thus, there is an urgent and dire need to reinstate a Single National Entrance exam called NEET (just as it happened in 2013) across India. The NEET was conducted successfully in 2013 but was struck down by the Supreme Court in a split verdict (2:1) in June 2013 citing lack of powers of MCI to conduct the NEET. However, all the 3 judges had praised the intention of NEET in larger interests of society.



The Union Health Ministry and Medical Council of India has approved plans to reinstate NEET from 2017 or 2018. However, an amendment in the MCI act is necessary which has to be approved by the Parliament. If that happens soon, the NEET exam shall become a reality and a new era shall dawn in the murky sector of Medical admissions.



The NEET will establish uniformity and help select good quality students to Medical colleges in India and shall save the labour, costs and complexities for students for having to write multiple exams. The reinstatement of NEET shall also make the medical admissions process transparent and end the rampant malpractices in the form of huge capitation fees which are charged by Private Medical colleges across the nation.



We must note here that a student who incurs undue huge costs for his Medical education harbours a tendency to recover it as soon as he emerges as a doctor in society. The common man in society unfortunately bears the brunt of this tendency amongst such doctors for years. The reinstatement of NEET from 2017 or 2018 is thus absolutely necessary to end this vicious sequence and bring clarity and uniformity in the Medical admissions process.



However, for 2016 there is no NEET and there are a host of Medical Entrance exams which aspirants shall have to write. A list of prominent exams is mentioned below:



  • MH-CET: This exam is conducted by Directorate of Medical Education of Maharashtra State for admission to almost 30 Medical colleges of Maharashtra. The MH-CET shall be conducted on May 5, 2016 and has only Std.12 HSC syllabi in the subjects of Physics, Chemistry and Biology. There is no negative marking and the total paper is for 3 hours and 200 marks. A score of atleast 175 marks is necessary to gain admission in some Medical college for MBBS courses. For more details visit www.dmer.org
  • AIPMT: This exam is conducted by CBSE and gives admission via 15% All India quota to over 300 medical colleges in India. This exam is typically of 720 marks and the syllabi is Std.11 & 12 combined in the subjects of Physics, Chemistry & Biology as per CBSE curriculum. The AIPMT has negative marking and a score of 480 marks and above is usually needed to gain admission in some Medical college. For more details visit www.aipmt.nic.in
  • AIIMS: This exam is conducted by AIIMS-Delhi and gives admission to the 7 AIIMS colleges in India. This exam considered one of the toughest Medical Entrance exams in the world. For more details visit www.aiimsexams.org
  • JIPMER: This exam is conducted by admission to JIPMER-Pondicherry. For more details visit www.jipmer.edu.in
  • CMC-Vellore:5. This exam is for admission to Christian Medical College – Vellore. For more details visit www.cmch-vellor.edu.in
  • MANIPAL: This exam is for admission to Kasturba Medical College – Manipal. For more details visit www.manipal.edu.in
  • WARDHA: This exam is for admission to the Mahatma Gandhi Institute of Medical Sciences. For more details visit www.mgims.ac.in
  • COMED-K: This exam is for admission to Consortium of medical and dental colleges in Karnataka.  For more details visit www.comedk.org
  • ASSO-CET:9. This exam is for a cluster of Private Medical & Dental Colleges in Maharashtra. For more details visit www.amupmdc.org


It must be noted that there is no weightage accorded to XII Boards marks for admission into any Medical college and admission is strictly granted only on the basis of marks and ranks achieved in these Entrance exams mentioned above. The exam forms are available online from December onwards of Std.12 and students must keep a keen watch on the notifications and deadlines on the respective websites.



Since the exam patterns and difficulty level of these exams are all different, it is wise for Medical aspirants to prepare for Std.11 & 12 syllabi upto AIIMS level of difficulty for every chapter. Thereafter, practice Tests for individual exams must be given to acclimatise themselves to various patterns. For MH-CET Biology, it is essential that students are thorough with each and every line of the Government HSC text books to score well in MH-CET.



It is also essential to note that medical aspirants make the mistake of ignoring Mathematics altogether. Knowledge of certain topics in Maths is essential for understanding several chapters of Physics and Chemistry. The topics in Maths which Medical aspirants must study at a basic level are Logarithms, Quadratic equations, Trigonometry, Functions & Graphs, Differentiation, Maxima-Minima, Integration, Differential Equations, Straight Line and Circle.



A student who studies Biology systematically and focuses on conceptual understanding of Physics & Chemistry and practices large number of Tests shall surely gain success in Medical Entrance exams.

Durgesh C. Mangeshkar

2016 ENGINEERING ENTRANCE EXAMS SCENARIO

In the past 15 years, there are major changes every 2-years or so in the Engineering Entrance Exams scenario at State and National level. There are about 3500 Engineering colleges in India having about 18 lakh seats of which about 350 Engineering colleges and 1.5 lakh seats are available in Maharashtra alone. Every year, about 8 lakh seats remain vacant in India of which about 50000 seats remain vacant in Maharashtra alone !  It must be noted that hardly 60000 seats belong to A-grade Engineering colleges across India. The constant changes in admission rules create confusion in the minds of students, parents and teachers. This article attempts to lend clarity to the admissions criteria for different Engineering colleges for the year 2016.



  • IITs:Admission to the IITs is on the basis of JEE ADVANCED All India Ranks only. Additionally, the student must score atleast 75% marks Aggregate of 5 subjects in XII Boards as eligibility criteria for admission to the IITs. IITs have about 10000 seats of which about 5000 are for General Category and 5000 for Reserved Category. An All India Rank of Top 6000 is usually required for admission into the IITs for an General Category student.
  • BITS PILANI :Admission to BITS PILANI is on the basis of the BITSAT exam. But the student must score atleast 75% in subjects of PCM in XII Boards as eligibility criteria for admission to BITS. BITS have 3 campuses at PILANI, Goa and Hyderabad and 1800 seats. A score of 300 marks out of 450 marks is usually required to secure admission into BITS.
  •  NITs / IIITs : Admission to NITs / IIITs for 2016 is on the basis of a complicated rule wherein 60% weightage is given to JEE MAINS marks and 40% weightage is given to XII Boards Aggregate marks. An All India Rank List is prepared on the basis of this 60-40 Rule and admissions are granted as per their Ranks. However, 3 Govt. panel experts have recommended scrapping of the 60-40 rule as it is highly flawed. Therefore, it is expected that from 2017 onwards, admission to the NITs & IIITs shall be on the basis of JEE MAINS marks only with zero weightage to XII Boards marks.
  • Maharashtra Engineering Colleges : Admission to almost all the 350+ Engineering colleges of Maharashtra in 2016 is on the basis of the following rule :
    • Admission to 65% seats (State quota) is via MHT-CET exam
    • Admission to 15% seats (All India quota) is via JEE MAINS exam
    • Admission to remaining 20% seats is by Management quota

There is no weightage to XII Boards for 2016. The student is however expected to score 50% marks in PCM subjects as eligibility criterion. The famous college of COEP in Pune is an exception to the above rule. COEP admits 100% of its students by MHT-CET only. 



From 2017 onwards, the Union HRD Ministry has planned to again change the admissions criteria of IITs and NITs. As per media reports, there are plans of introducing an Online Aptitude Test based on Logic questions from which 4 lakh students shall be selected who shall appear in JEE after XII Boards. The JEE MAINS and JEE ADVANCED shall be merged into a Single JEE from 2017 and 40000 Ranks shall be declared who shall then be admitted into the IITs and NITs by a joint counselling process. A minimum of 2-years preparation is expected from students for all these Entrance exams in Std. 11-12. Students and Parents need to keep a tab on the changes happening in the Entrance Exams scenario and prepare for the same accordingly.

Durgesh C. Mangeshkar

A NEAT PERSPECTIVE ON THE NEET TANGLE

WHAT HAPPENED ?

In 2010, the Board of Governors of Medical Council of India (MCI) proposed that a Single National Medical Entrance exam called NEET for all Medical colleges in India must be implemented across the nation. However, the decision was challenged by Private Medical colleges by filing over a 100 petitions in various High Courts of the country. The matter was combined into one unified petition and was adjudicated by the Supreme Court in July 2013. The NEET exam was struck down by the Supreme Court on July 28, 2013 in a 2:1 split judgement citing the reason that though NEET was good in intent, the MCI constitution did not empower it to conduct Entrance exams. Hence, NEET was not conducted in 2014 and 2015 and admissions to Medical colleges were done on the basis of various CETs and AIPMT exam.



However in a dramatic turn of events, the NEET was reinstated by a 5-judge bench of the Supreme Court headed by Justice Dave on April 11, 2016. The Supreme Court ruled that NEET exam shall be the Single National Medical Entrance exam for all Medical colleges in India including Government, Private and Deemed Universities. Only 2 Medical Colleges were exempted from NEET-UG viz. AIIMS and JIPMER. The Supreme Court stated that NEET would streamline the Medical Admissions process, eliminate corruption & high capitation fees culture and save students the labour of writing multiple Entrance Tests. The Supreme Court also clarified that constitutional, regional and minority quotas will remain unchanged and the only change introduced is that NEET exam shall replace all other existing exams. Between April 11 to 27, 2016 everyone assumed that the NEET ruling was valid from 2017 onwards. However, a clarification was issued by the Supreme Court on April 28 stating that NEET exam must be implemented from 2016 itself.  This clarification came as a shock to lacs of medical aspirants, their parents and teachers across the nation as students had prepared for State-level CETs whose syllabi, exam pattern and level of difficulty are significantly lower than the NEET exam.



The emotional and mental turmoil that students and parents were facing was reflected in street protests and numerous headlines and media debates and reports across the nation. The broad theme of the protests was that NEET was a welcome move but ill-timed. There would not have been any hue n cry due to this decision if the NEET decision were to be implemented from 2017 onwards. But this decision to implement NEET from 2016 meant that students in States like Maharashtra, Gujarat etc. who had prepared for State-CETs for 2-years and were to appear for the CET exam were suddenly told that the State-CET would be null and void. Instead, they would have to appear for NEET exam to be held 2.5 months later on July 24, 2016. The burden to prepare for NEET in 2.5 months was too much for these students as the difference between the State-CETs syllabi and NEET takes over a year to cover. Coaching classes were puzzled too and so were the State Governments over the decision.  



All attempts made by various petitioners to modify the April 28 order were quashed by the Apex Court. In this background, a concerted effort was taken by several media groups like Lokmat, Times of India, Indian Express, Sakaal etc. in Maharashtra with the backing of educationists (of which I too was a part), parents bodies and teachers and also political parties to create a pressure group on the State & Union Government to defer implementation of NEET by a year. This was a sensible campaign to relieve the undue stress on students appearing for 2016 medical entrance exams. A good idea must be implemented at the right time. If it is implemented at a wrong time, there are possibilities of the baby being thrown out along with the bath water due to the consequent opposition.  



The State Governments held meetings with the Union Health Ministry and on May-20, 2016 the Union Government promulgated an Ordinance to defer implementation of NEET for admission to Government Medical colleges to 2017 onwards. However, admission to Private Medical colleges and Deemed Universities was to be on the basis of NEET only for 2016 as well. This was a welcome move by the Union Government to provide relief to lacs of Medical aspirants from States like Maharashtra, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, Punjab etc.  



In another sensational turn of events, the NEET Ordinance was challenged in the Supreme court on May 24 by the original petitioner, an NGO called Sankalp Charitable Trust. The Supreme Court accepted the challenge petition but refused to stay the NEET Ordinance on July-14. The Supreme Court however rapped the Union Government for issuing an Ordinance which went against the Supreme Court ruling of April 28. The Apex court said the Ordinance was in bad taste and was not on sound legal ground but in order to prevent further chaos to students, the Apex Court wisely chose to not stay the Ordinance.  This final judgement from the Supreme Court completes the tumultuous drama over NEET which was triggered by the April 11 judgment.  



In many of my articles on this blog, I have argued strongly for the implementation of NEET across all Medical colleges in India. However, as events unfolded between April 28 and May 20, various voices and opinions by teachers, parents and eminent personalities were audible thanks to different media outlets of which many of them opposed NEET not just from 2016 but from 2017 onwards as well. The arguments used by them to oppose NEET from 2017 onwards must be analysed and rebutted if found specious. The remaining part of this article is dedicated towards this end alone !  



WHO OPPOSES NEET from 2017 onwards?

There are 3 principal groups in society which oppose NEET from 2017 as under :

  • Private Medical Colleges :NEET lends transparency to the admission process and monitoring by Government agencies which prohibits Medical colleges from earning exorbitant capitation fees. The modus operandi of Private Medical colleges was to conduct a dubious Entrance Test which could be easily manipulated. Students were deliberately failed and vacancies created in Merit quota which were transferred to Management quota. Capitation fees can be legally charged from any student applying for Management quota. As per estimates published by some media outlets, about Rs. 25000 crores in capitation fees exchange hands for Private Medical college admissions every year.   The introduction of NEET has ruffled their feathers and they are opposing the decision tooth and nail.
  • Coaching Classes & teachers who are NOT capable of teaching for NEET : A majority of teachers in the coaching circuit in States like Maharashtra, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, West Bengal, Orissa, Assam, Karnataka etc. are not comfortable teaching the NEET syllabi. Their expertise and experience lies in coaching students at the level of State-level CETs or XII Boards only.  The introduction of NEET has placed these teachers in an awkward position and naturally they are opposing NEET strongly often by pushing students and parents to speak out. Essentially, their strategy is to shoot from the shoulders of Parents and Students. Instead of taking up this as an opportunity to upgrade themselves, these teachers choose to oppose NEET and wish to perpetuate the pre-2016 status quo of State-level CETs for Medical admissions.
  • Lazy students : It is a fact that out of about 12 lakh Medical aspirants in the nation, barely 50000 secure a Medical seat. This means a mere 4% students secure a MBBS seat every year. Those who secure a seat are no doubt intelligent and hard working students. There are atleast 2 lac more students who too were hardworking but could not perform on the day of the exam and hence lost out. Please note that the remaining 9.5 lakh students were the insincere students who may or may not be intelligent but certainly lacked the key elements of sincerity and hard work during the 2 crucial years of their preparation. As you can see clearly, 4 out of every 5 medical aspirants is in the lazy students category. And let me tell you as someone well-entrenched in the coaching circuit, even this is an extremely optimistic estimate. Now, lazy students are bound to oppose any exam like NEET which has a greater syllabus, higher level of difficulty of questions and a tougher exam pattern. As you can see, all the 3 groups above have vested interests and must be ignored. They do not realise the long-term implications of NEET on the overall health sector of the nation. They are only concerned with their short-term selfish interests. Hence, their opposition must fall on deaf ears. Supreme Court deserves praise for doing exactly that !!!

    Now let us examine some arguments employed against NEET by different personalities who are apparently not part of the above 3 groups.


SPECIOUS ARGUMENTS OFTEN EMPLOYED AGAINST NEET :

1. Rural – Urban inequality :

  • Argument : If NEET is introduced, urban students shall gain an unfair advantage over rural students as urban students have access to quality coaching whereas rural or poor students do not.
  • Rebuttal :When MHT-CET was prevalent from 1999-2016, most of the Top performers who secured admissions in GMCs were from urban non-poor backgrounds who had access to quality coaching.  Even for MHT-CET, quality coaching is available in select cities and towns of Maharashtra and not in rural areas. The fees for MHT-CET coaching is also not affordable to poor students. So there is no argument against NEET as the status-quo does not change.


2. Vernacular students suffer :

  • Argument : NEET is in English and Hindi language only whereas State-level CETs are in local languages too.  Hence, students studying in vernacular medium shall suffer due to introduction of NEET.
  • Rebuttal :It is not difficult for CBSE to set NEET papers in vernacular medium too. Having said that, it must be understood that all Medical Education after Std.12 in MBBS / BDS courses is in English medium only. Hence, a reasonable proficiency in English language must be checked at the Entrance exam level. Since there is no separate English section in any Medical Entrance exam, the language of the exam being English is good enough.


3. CBSE gains :

  • Argument : NEET is based on CBSE syllabus and hence CBSE students shall gain a competitive advantage over State Boards students if NEET is introduced.  
  • Rebuttal :Questions asked in NEET are not directly from the NCERT text books but need application of the concepts. That needs special coaching and a different approach which no college going student develops. A CBSE student is no better position therefore than a State Boards student. To prepare for NEET, a student needs to take specialised coaching from experts and only the intelligent and hardworking student excels. The performance has little or nothing to do with what Boards the student is studying in.


4. State students lose out :

  • Argument : By introduction of NEET, the students of a particular State will suffer. Students of other States with better NEET scores will occupy seats in Medical colleges of that State. This is gross injustice on State students. (This argument has lead to mass protests orchestrated by various regional political parties in many states of India especially in TN, Pondicherry etc.  
  • Rebuttal :Admissions to Medical colleges of a particular State happen on the basis of fixed quotas reserved for State students and out-of-State students. There is a 85% State quota in Government Medical Colleges and 65% State quota in Private Medical Colleges. These State quota seats are only for students of that State and no outside State student is given that seat. The introduction of NEET does not disturb the quota system (based on constitutional, State, regional, girls etc.) at all. Only the exam has changed. It was earlier a State-level CET and now it is NEET. So the argument that State students shall lose out due to NEET is baseless.

    Thus, there is no sane reason to oppose NEET. From 2017, the Supreme Court has made NEET compulsory for all the Medical colleges in India except AIIMS and JIPMER. Students must take cognizance of this phenomenal change in Medical Entrance rules and prepare for NEET properly by taking professional coaching for the same.

    The uncertainty over NEET is over. The time to prepare for NEET neatly is now.



Durgesh C. Mangeshkar

2 RIVAL METHODOLOGIES TO PREPARE FOR MHT-CET

The MHT-CET for Engineering has been reintroduced from 2016 by the Govt. of Maharashtra after it was cancelled in 2014 & 2015. The MHT-CET is an Entrance exam in Maths, Physics & Chemistry for admission into the 4-years B.E. and B.Tech. Courses of all the 350+ engineering colleges in Maharashtra via the 65% State quota. The MHT-CET was first introduced hurriedly within 50 days in Maharashtra State in June 2004 following a shocking Supreme Court Ruling in April 2004. The introduction of MHT-CET replaced the importance given to XII Boards for admission to Engineering colleges from 2005-2013.  The same system is now being implemented from 2016 onwards.



There are about 2.4 lac Engineering aspirants in Maharashtra to about 1.5 lac Engineering seats in 350+ Engineering colleges of which about 50000 seats remain vacant each year. It must be understood that out of these 350+ Engineering colleges in Maharashtra, hardly 50 colleges may be considered as A-grade colleges wherein quality of education, peer group and job + further studies placements are respectable. So, the competition is sharp for these A-grade seats.



The MHT-CET in its present form has 57 chapters in PCM strictly of Std.12 HSC syllabus. The MHT-CET has 2 papers viz. Paper 1 of 1.5 hours comprising of Physics & Chemistry each having 50 questions totalling 100 marks. Paper 2 has Mathematics having 50 questions for 1.5 hours and totalling 100 marks. All questions are Single-Answer Multiple Choice questions based and have NO NEGATIVE MARKING. MHT-CET is perhaps the only Entrance exam in India without negative marking.



It has been observed that there are fundamentally 2 effective methods to prepare for the MHT-CET. Both these methods compete with each other and it will be interesting to witness which of the 2 methods emerges more successful from 2016 onwards. The first method of preparation for MHT-CET comprises of studying from Std.11 onwards with gentle focus on Std.11 chapters which form the base for Std.12 syllabus. Then, the student studies Std.12 chapters and does practice of solving formula-based Objective questions i.e. of MHT-CET level of difficulty. Finally, a Crash course and Test Series for MHT-CET is taken by the student to improve exam strategies and exam time-management skills. Throughout the 2-years, the student focuses on college exams and mainly on the 57 chapters for MHT-CET. The student does not prepare for JEE and other National-level exams during these 2-years.



The second method of preparation for MHT-CET comprises of studying from Std.11 onwards for JEE and studying the 110 chapters of Std.11 & 12. The focus of such a student in the first 16-18 months from Std.11 onwards is to understand the concepts of every chapter deeply and learn to apply these concepts to diverse situations.  Thus, the student focuses on developing problems solving ability in the first 16 months. If a student can solve JEE level problems in any chapter, then he can easily solve any MHT-CET level question too in that chapter. This is the principal idea behind this method of study. However, Test practice of MHT-CET is a must to build requisite speed and exam temperament. Therefore, the student practices many Mock MHT-CET Tests 4-6 months before the MHT-CET exam.



From 2005-13, both methods have reported many successful stories in the MHT-CET exam. So we have a fair basis to predict that both methods will be successful and effective from 2016 onwards as well and hence they shall compete with each other. However, there is one major negative point with the first method.



The MHT-CET is a significantly easier exam than the JEE or any other National level exam. Questions in MHT-CET are information-based or formula-based and thus based on the paradigm,  “Known Concepts – Known Problems”.  However, JEE exam is based on the paradigm, “Known Concepts – Unknown Problems” which is also the theme in all exams during the 4 years of Engineering and thereafter. Hence, a student who studies by the second method of JEE excels during the 4-years of Engineering since they have superior fundamentals. However, a student who studies by the first method of studying only for MHT-CET suffers from serious academic challenges (ATKTs etc.) during the 4-years of Engineering.



Hence, it must be understood that from the short-term point of view of getting admission in an Engineering college, both methods are effective. However, from a long-term perspective, students are advised to study by the second method of JEE only.

Durgesh C. Mangeshkar

EXAM PATTERN OF THE IIT-JEE : CHANGE IS THE ONLY CONSTANT !

The IIT-JEE (recently called the JEE ADVANCED) commenced since 1960 is considered the toughest Entrance Exam in the world and is the criterion for admission to undergraduate courses in the world-renowned tech-schools viz. the IITs. Though the syllabi of the IIT-JEE has undergone very little change since 1960, the format and exam pattern have undergone major changes every 2-3 years since the past 2 decades.



A brief history of the various formats and exam patterns of the IIT-JEE is as under :

  • 1960 – 1989:The IIT-JEE was an exam having 3 Question Papers each one in PCM of 3 hours each. The exam pattern was Subjective.
  • 1990 - 2003:The exam format of the IIT-JEE had two stages viz. Screening & Mains. It was mandatory to clear the Screening Exam to be eligible for the Mains exam. The Screening was an Objective Test whereas the Mains was a Subjective Test.
  • 2004 - 2005: The IIT-JEE became a single-stage exam having 3 separate questions papers of PCM each of 2 hours each. All 3 papers were of Subjective exam pattern.
  • 2006 - 2012: The IIT-JEE became a Single-stage Objective exam having 2 papers each having PCM of 3 hours each. The exam had mixed question patterns.
  • 2013 - 2016:The IIT-JEE again became a two-stage exam viz. JEE MAINS and JEE ADVANCED. The JEE MAINS is an Objective exam with Single-Answer MCQs and the JEE ADVANCED is a mixed pattern Objective questions-based exam.
  • 2017-onwards: Format and exam pattern expected to change again! There is speculation that the IIT-JEE shall remain a 2-stage exam with an Online Aptitude Test to be used as a Screening for eligibility for writing the JEE which is expected to be Subjective in exam-pattern.  This is as per the recommendations of an eminent Govt. panel headed by ex-Director of IIT Bombay, Prof. Ashok Misra.

    It is the observation of IIT Professors in the past 2 decades that the students selected via a Subjective pattern of the IIT-JEE have been more suited to the level of academics taught inside the hallowed portals of the IITs as compared to students selected via a Objective pattern. This may be principally due to 2 reasons : 
    •  A Subjective pattern expects a student to “create an answer” rather than “choose an answer”. It is obvious that greater talent is required to create an answer and hence the Subjective pattern is preferable to an Objective pattern for selecting students.
    • A Subjective pattern based question paper has hardly 15 questions for a 3-hours paper and hence, the student gets enough time to attempt every question. However, an Objective pattern based Q. paper has 60 questions for a 3-hours paper which implies that time-management is very important and choice of questions to attempt plays a disproportionately crucial role in the eventual performance of the student. An Objective exam thus becomes more of a Test of nerves rather than a Test of Knowledge. This is not so in the case of a Subjective pattern and hence is preferable.
    • Since the number of students which is expected to appear in the JEE from 2017 is expected to be between 2-4 lacs, it is unreasonable to expect IIT Professors to correct so many Q. papers. Hence, an Integer-type pattern of asking Subjective questions which was first introduced by the IITs in IIT-JEE 2006 is likely to be administered from 2017 onwards. The Online Aptitude Test is expected to comprise of basic questions in PCM along with logical-reasoning based questions along the lines of SAT exam.
    • We shall have to wait and watch for the precise details to be revealed in the coming months


Durgesh C. Mangeshkar

HOW TO PREPARE FOR JEE ?

The admission to the 30 NITs, 4 IIITs, DA-IICT and 15% All India quota to all the unaided and aided Engineering colleges in different States (like VJTI, MIT, VIT, ICT etc.) is on the basis of JEE MAINS exam. The JEE from 2013-16 is being conducted in 2 stages viz. JEE MAINS in April and JEE ADVANCED in May. About 13 lac students across India appear for the JEE MAINS of which 2 lac students are selected for JEE ADVANCED. The admission to the 19 IITs is based on the JEE ADVANCED. In Maharashtra, there are about 2.5 lac students who appear for various Engineering Entrance Exams like MHT-CET, JEE etc. of which only about 15000 students consciously prepare for JEE. The rest prepare only for XII Boards and MHT-CET exam. Thus, barely 6% of Engineering aspirants in Maharashtra prepare for JEE as against 75% in Andhra Pradesh and 90% in Delhi & Kota. Despite this, Maharashtra ranked No.3 in India in 2015 after Andhra Pradesh & Rajasthan in number of IIT Ranks produced State-wise. Thus, there is a clear need for building awareness of JEE in Maharashtra as the Pre-Engineering Foundation gets far better developed by studying for JEE rather than by simply studying for MHT-CET.



The JEE MAINS has 110 chapters in Maths, Physics & Chemistry whereas the JEE ADVANCED has about 100 chapters only. Both exams are Multiple-choice questions based with negative marking. The pattern of JEE MAINS is fixed with 90 questions and 360 marks to be done in 3 hours. The pattern of JEE ADVANCED is not disclosed before the exam and changes every year. The average level of difficulty of questions in JEE ADVANCED is higher as compared to JEE MAINS. The cut-off score for qualifying from JEE MAINS to JEE ADVANCED has ranged between 105-115 marks out of 360 in the past 3 years. The qualifying score for an IIT Rank in JEE ADVANCED exam is 35% marks.



When to start preparing for JEE?

The preparation for JEE can be done in 2-years period from Std.11-12. However, developing problems solving ability in 110 chapters in just 2-years is usually a stressful experience for most students. Hence, the ideal time to start JEE preparation is any given year from Std.8-10 so that there is no stress during Std.11-12. If the student invests atleast 1 year in IIT Foundation preparation either in Std.8 or 9, he would come out of the rote learning approach usually adopted in schools and shall be better oriented to understand the concepts of Math & Science. This shall help the student in Std.11-12 tremendously and would help him enjoy his studies rather than finding it as a burden. Enjoying the study process is the antidote to the stress which students nowadays suffer from!



What must be the study approach ?

In the first 16 months in Std.11-12, the student must focus on understanding basic concepts of the 110 chapters in JEE syllabi and learning to solve problems by applying these concepts in various different situations. The focus must be to solve problems of JEE ADVANCED level of difficulty which enables a student to easily solve JEE MAINS problems as well. The last 6-8 months must be invested in mastering the art of cracking the JEE exam by writing large number of Tests and analysing Test performance in detail after every Test. The student must evolve his own personal exam strategy in the course of these 6 months to crack the JEE. 



From which sources must the student study for JEE ?

There are broadly 3 sources from where a student can study for JEE.

  • Classroom coaching : This is the best avenue if the coaching institute has talented teachers as instant doubt clarifying happens, the right approach to learn is given and a vibrant peer group is readily available. However, the cost of education in coaching institutes is high and there are hardly 15 reputed coaching institutes for JEE in Maharashtra with centers in Mumbai, Pune, Nagpur & Aurangabad.
  • Postal / Study Material coaching : A student who is determined and can do self-study can prepare for JEE by purchasing good books for JEE available in the market or by enrolling for a postal program in a reputed National-Level coaching institute. JEE books published by Cengage, Arihant, GRB, Disha, JPNP, Bharti Bhuvan etc. are widely used by JEE aspirants across India.
  • Electronic coaching :  A student can enroll for e-Learning tools like video lectures, e-study material, e-Tests which again are available ONLINE or in tablet or pen drive formats.  This is an upcoming trend and is likely to become more popular within 2-3 years. It must be noted that Self-Study for 6-8 hours daily for JEE is a must in Std.11-12 while studying by any of the above 3 methods.

Is it worth sacrificing fun in my 2 precious teenage years for JEE studies ?

Engineering studies of 4-years are based on JEE studies and not on CET studies ! Hence, ideally every Engineering aspirant must study for JEE during Std.11-12 and must cut down extra-curricular activities during this 2-years period. It is worth it as the student can enjoy his student life along with excelling in academics during the 4-years of Engineering. The choice for an Engineering aspirant is to either have fun in Std.11-12 and suffer in the 4-years of Engineering OR to study hard in Std.11-12 and enjoy in the 4-years of Engineering. The wise student will make the right choice accordingly.



Engineering studies of 4-years are based on JEE studies and not on CET studies ! Hence, ideally every Engineering aspirant must study for JEE during Std.11-12 and must cut down extra-curricular activities during this 2-years period. It is worth it as the student can enjoy his student life along with excelling in academics during the 4-years of Engineering. The choice for an Engineering aspirant is to either have fun in Std.11-12 and suffer in the 4-years of Engineering OR to study hard in Std.11-12 and enjoy in the 4-years of Engineering. The wise student will make the right choice accordingly.

Durgesh C. Mangeshkar

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